Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Our daughters have been held by sex attackers and could now be giving birth, say hostages’ mothers

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For nine months, they have been begging for the lives of their daughters, abducted into Gaza by terrorists on October 7.

They know their girls may have been sexually abused and tortured; they may not even still be alive.

They’ve seen other hostages exchanged, and even rescued, but they have now come together to ask for a ceasefire deal that will bring their girls home.

The parents of four of the young women still held hostage – Daniella Gilboa, Doron Steinbrecher, Agam Berger and Romi Gonen – spoke at a press conference on Tuesday night to say the world must not forget their plight.

“Nine months is a symbolic time for a parent, normally a happy time, but my daughter is in the hands of terrorists who we know sexually abused and raped women and all I can think about is that this is a sad day for my daughter who may or may not be pregnant,” said Orli Gilboa whose IDF observer daughter Daniella is just 20.

Earlier this week, Orli made the decision to release Hamas footage of her daughter in order to keep the pressure up.

“I am letting myself be more optimistic these days because we understand that there is a deal on the table which is an Israeli suggestion and we hope that both sides want this deal. I call on my prime minister and all the governments involved to use all their strength to make this deal go through.”

Simona Steinbrecher, the mother of Doron Steinbrecher, 31, who was taken from Kibbutz Kfar Aza, said the last nine months have been pure torture.

“We know from the women who came back there that there has been sex abuse and all of us are worried about what is happening to our girls, which is why we ask that everyone push Hamas to make a deal. This is the only chance we have to get our daughters back. There is no choice.”

Shlomi Berger, father of Agam Berger, a 19-year-old IDF observer, added that the world needed to know that the war would continue until all the hostages are returned. “For people who want to stop it, the only way is to make Hamas bring back all of the hostages. Unless they do, it will never end. It will not stop until the last hostage is brought back – dead or alive.

“So we ask everyone, whatever side they are on, if they want this war to stop they have to ask for the hostages to be returned.”

Meirav Leshem Gonen, whose 23-year-old daughter Romi was kidnapped from the Nova festival, said a meeting she had recently at the UN had “failed to address” the concerns of parents and said that the fact the young women were still hostages should be “a badge of shame to us all”.

The majority of the Israeli public – 67 per cent, according to a poll published by the country’s Channel 12 news – now believes that returning the hostages is more important than continuing the war in Israel.

“It is our responsibility together to make sure they will come back,” says Meirav. “There is no good deal but the alternative is worse.”

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